The New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is finally recognizing an existing law that allows transgender and non-binary individuals to update the gender marker on IDs without presenting a doctor’s letter.
New Hampshire’s State Legislature in 2019 passed the new law allowing an option for the gender marker “x” on government-issued IDs, and last year the law went into effect. Nowhere in the law did it point to a requirement for medical documentation, but the DMV still required it — at least until now.
A Granite University student named Rho said they previously tried updating their legal sex to “X” but were told they needed a doctor’s letter to affirm their gender identity. Rho informed GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), an LGBTQ legal group, and they brought the issue to the attention of New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella. The DMV went on to update its website to allow folks to update their gender marker on their own.
Rho said they hoped correcting their state ID would help them build community with others and avoid transphobia in the workplace. Rho also emphasized that it’s critical for them to have “a legitimate document that accurately expresses” their gender.
“As someone who is non-binary, Indigenous, and a person of color, I felt I had to stand up for all my identities,” Rho said. “Acknowledging our name and identity is a human right. It’s a means of respecting one another.”
Rho also highlighted the impact that the change could have on non-binary individuals across the state.
“I’m happy this is happening in my life,” Rho said. “But I’m really happy it’s helping other non-binary young people to be respected Americans, because it’s our birth right to be free.”
Rho’s lawyer, Andru Volinsky of 160 Law, PLLC, in Concord, New Hampshire, noted that the former policy made it difficult for non-binary and trans people to access a legal gender marker change.
“My client, Rho, simply wanted a New Hampshire state ID that accurately reflects their non-binary gender,” Volinsky said in a written statement. “Being asked for a signature from a medical provider didn’t make sense and added unnecessary stress to what should have been a straightforward process. The requirement also penalizes individuals with less access to medical resources, exacerbating an already inequitable situation. I was glad to be able to assist Rho in advocating for this change that will allow them and other non-binary residents in New Hampshire to have accurate identification.”
In defending Rho’s case, legal advocates praised local government leaders for acting on the issue.
“We were pleased to see that once the issue was brought to their attention, the attorney general’s office and the Division of Motor Vehicles recognized that the health care attestation form was unnecessary and removed that form from use for any new or corrected driver’s license or state ID,” Chris Erchull, a lawyer at GLAD, said in a written statement.
This year, New York state enacted the Gender Recognition Act, which allows LGBTQ folks to update their state IDs with the gender marker “X.” The law stipulates that trans and non-binary people are not required to present a doctor’s note when updating their legal gender marker and waives a rule requiring individuals to publish their name change in a paper.
To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter.